Louisiana's Department of Education Shifts From CRT to American Exceptionalism

Louisiana's Department of Education Shifts From CRT to American Exceptionalism
A detail from the painting “Declaration of Independence” by John Trumbull (1826), depicting the Committee of Five: (L–R) John Adams, Robert Livingston, Roger Sherman, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. (Public Domain)
Matt McGregor

Louisiana public schools are closing the door to woke ideologies in social studies curricula and turning instead to American exceptionalism.

“If you look throughout the course of American history, you see that we have always been on a quest for freedom, whether it was the signers of the Declaration of Independence or the abolishment of slavery,” Louisiana Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley told The Epoch Times.

Brumley oversaw the process that led to the adoption of the Louisiana Department of Education’s new social studies standards, which were approved by the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in March 2022 and will go into effect in 2023.

Though content standards are supposed to be revised every seven years, Brumley said they hadn’t been changed since 2011.

“That’s something I wanted to take on because, frankly, the children deserve better,” he said.

The current standards made it difficult for students to look at history chronologically, Brumley said, with fourth graders learning about the American Revolution, then not studying the French Revolution until late in the fifth grade.

Because of this, better sequencing of content became one of the goals for the new standards, as well as the incorporation of multiple historical perspectives that told “the whole story,” he said.

Accessibility for the public was also a top priority, Brumley said.

“We recognized how politically combustible these conversations are in our society, and we wanted to get it right for every American,” Brumley said.

This began a year-long process involving community members, parents, and students workshopping draft standards, the first set of which were produced by a steering committee.

“It initially began with a couple of different workgroups that wrote a set of draft standards independent from the department, and we just facilitated the process,” Brumley said.

That draft received “overwhelmingly negative” criticism, one of the reasons being the incorporation of critical race theory (CRT), which Brumley had said he would not allow in the K–12 school system.

Based on the feedback taken from public comments, the drafts were revised into something called the Freedom Framework.

“We have the quest for freedom embedded in the American story throughout the course of our history, and for me, instead of approaching a set of standards through other ideologies, we felt like the sweet spot for us was the Freedom Framework, because that sets the tone for the greatness of our country,” Brumley said.

That greatness includes recognizing where there has been the need to eradicate barbaric institutions like slavery and racist policies, he said.

Proponents of teaching CRT in schools have said CRT teaches “real, black history,” and that the removal of CRT from schools is as an attempt to “whitewash” history.

However, Brumley said the entirety of America's history will be taught, including its mistakes.

“We did not shy away from some of the most challenging points in American history,” he said. “In fact, we went above and beyond to capture those moments in history when we needed to self-correct, but at the same time, we weren’t going to allow for any form of indoctrination to be a part of these standards,” he said.

Telling the whole story doesn’t just mean obsessing over the ugly chapters of American history, Brumley said, but instead examining its innate exceptionalism.

“That’s the beauty of a constitutional republic as opposed to other forms of government, because in order to form a more perfect union, over the course of time we’ve had to self-correct,” he said. “This is what our Founding Fathers intended.”